https://www.duolingo.com/profile/petermuster550

"Vi ho sentiti." vs. "Vi ho sentito."

I was just presented with the sentence "Vi ho sentiti." and I'm asking myself if that form is mandatory or optional, since I learned earlier that I only have to adjust the past participle in combination with "essere" or shortened forms like "L'ho".

Could anyone explain that to me?

January 14, 2017

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mmseiple

Have you looked at the comments for the sentence? It is explained there a few times.: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/273955

If it still doesn't make sense, let me know!

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

Vi ho sentiti  is the only proper form.

The rules concerning the agreement of the past participle are basically three:

①  When the auxiliary is avere , the past participle is invariable (gender- and number-insensitive), and remains masculine and singular:

il ragazzo ha sentito un rumore = the boy heard a noise

i ragazzi hanno sentito un rumore = the boys heard a noise

i ragazzi hanno sentito delle voci = the boys heard some voices

②  When the auxiliary is essere , the past participle is gender- and number-sensitive, and agrees with the subject of the sentence:

il ragazzo è entrato = the boy came in

la ragazza è entrata = the girl came in

i ragazzi sono entrati = the boys came in

③  When a direct object clitic pronoun stands with the verb, these rules are overridden and the past participle agrees with the direct object, i.e. with the clitic pronoun itself:

il ragazzo li ha sentiti = the boy heard them

la ragazza li ha sentiti = the girl heard them

i ragazzi li hanno sentiti = the boys heard them

If the clitic pronoun changes, also the past participle changes consistently:

il ragazzo ti ha sentita = the boy heard you [feminine]

la ragazza ti ha sentita = the girl heard you [feminine]

i ragazzi ti hanno sentita = the boys heard you [feminine]

This rule does not apply when an indirect object clitic pronoun stands with the verb:

il ragazzo gli ha scritto una lettera = the boy wrote a letter to him

la ragazza vi ha scritto due lettere = the girl wrote two letters to you

i ragazzi mi hanno scritto due lettere = the boys wrote two letters to me

Rule ③ also applies when the partitive clitic pronoun ne  stands with the verb:

il ragazzo ne ha prese due = the boy took two of them [feminine]

la ragazza ne ha prese due = the girl took two of them [feminine]

i ragazzi ne hanno prese due = the boys took two of them [feminine]

In this example ne  refers to a feminine noun previously mentioned, so the noun accounts for the gender of the past participle (feminine), and due  for the number (plural).

il ragazzo ne ha preso uno = the boy took one of them [masculine]

la ragazza ne ha preso uno = the girl took one of them [masculine]

i ragazzi ne hanno preso uno = the boys took one of them [masculine]

Here ne  refers to a masculine noun previously mentioned, so preso  is masculine, and singular because of uno.

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mmseiple

Interesting, I had always read that agreement with the pronouns "mi," "ti," "ci," and "vi" was optional with "avere." Searching around, I have found plenty of sites (here for example: http://www.corriere.it/Rubriche/Scioglilingua/scioglilingua041002.shtml?refresh_ce-cp) confirming this, but nothing "official" as of yet. The Accademia della Crusca appears to state that agreement with a participle after "avere" is always optional: http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/lingua-italiana/consulenza-linguistica/domande-risposte/accordo-participio-passato and http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/lingua-italiana/consulenza-linguistica/domande-risposte/problemi-accordo

Certainly in practice one often finds masculine singular participles with first and second person direct object pronouns. Would this really be considered incorrect?

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

Quoting an example from the first article by the Accademia, an agreement such as

io ho scelte le migliori opere  (as opposed to io ho scelto )

in modern/contemporary Italian is no longer used. It makes the language sound very old-fashioned. In all my life I have never heard this agreement being used in conversation, not even by elderly speakers. A discrepancy in use between different areas of the country might indeed exist, but none of the people with whom I am in contact, from any part of Italy, ever uses this agreement. Instead, it is not a rare find in works of literature of the 19th century, or earlier.

With regard to masculine singular past participles used with plural direct object pronouns, as in

vi ho sentito entrare  (as opposed to vi ho sentiti entrare )

they are often heard in everyday's speech (together with the correct agreement). Strictly speaking, this is not grammatical, although grammar rules tend to loosen in time, and now nobody would raise an issue about this.


One case I did not mention in my previous comment for the sake of keeping it simple is when the sentence contains a direct object relative pronoun.
For instance, 'the books that you bought', or 'the words that I said'.
According to a grammar rule, when the direct object comes before the verb, the participle should agree with the direct object (this is the same rule that applies in the case of direct object clitic pronouns). So one should say:

i libri che tu hai comprati

le parole che io ho dette

To the best of my knowledge, this rule is now widely disregarded, and makes the language sound old-fashioned. Almost everybody says (and writes):

i libri che tu hai comprato

le parole che io ho detto

that is according to the most common rule (avere + invariable past participle).
Once again, I cannot exclude that some speakers in other parts of the country still use such agreement, but today it sounds quite unusual, despite being fully grammatical.

The rule does not apply to subject relative pronouns:

gli studenti che hanno seguito i corsi = the students who attended the courses

gli artisti che hanno scolpito le statue = the artists who carved the statues.

The difficulty by most average speakers in telling a direct object relative pronoun from a subject relative pronoun while they are speaking might give reason for the nonobservance of the rule.

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mmseiple

With regard to masculine singular past participles used with plural direct object pronouns, as in

vi ho sentito entrare  (as opposed to vi ho sentiti entrare )

they are often heard in everyday's speech (together with the correct agreement). Strictly speaking, this is not grammatical, although grammar rules tend to loosen in time, and now nobody would raise an issue about this.

Is this a rule, though? I'm having trouble finding anything that says it is.

Quoting an example from the first article by the Accademia, an agreement such as

io ho scelte le migliori opere  (as opposed to io ho scelto )

in modern/contemporary Italian is no longer used. It makes the language sound very old-fashioned. In all my life I have never heard this agreement being used in conversation, not even by elderly speakers.

Coincidentally, just the other day I saw someone comment to a friend on Facebook "avresti scoperte altre mille di queste incredibili verità." I thought it was interesting, since I too had not heard this in modern use. I don't exclude that she might secretly be a time traveler, though. : )

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

Is this a rule, though? I'm having trouble finding anything that says it is.

The Accademia linguists are very cautious in pronouncing themselves about 'rules'; they rather tend to suggest guidelines on the basis of the spoken language, and in many cases they label as 'acceptable' forms and constructions that school teachers would not allow. For this reason, some articles published in the Accademia's Facebook page are harshly criticized by followers with more traditional views.
I have enclosed an excerpt from my high school grammar textbook (1975) in which the rule is openly mentioned. Unfortunately, there is only one relevant example (le hai fatte? ), which could never be le hai fatto? , otherwise the sentence would no longer mean 'have you done them?', but 'have you done ...... to her/for her?' (with a missing direct object).

full size image

"avresti scoperte altre mille di queste incredibili verità."

This sounds very unusual to me in the 21st century! But Manzoni and Leopardi indeed spoke in this way in the early 1800s.
In the first article by the Accademia you linked, the standard agreement (ho scelto le migliori opere ) is compared with ho scelte le migliori opere, with the comment «nettamente prevalente, e quindi anche preferibile, la prima soluzione.»

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mmseiple

It sounded unusual to me as well, and I wondered if it was a regional thing or whether she was trying to make it sound antiquated for some reason. I don't know her well enough to interrogate her on which participle she uses, though. : )

On a different note, I'll bet your high school Italian teacher would be super impressed that you have not only kept your textbook for this long, but are citing it forty years later!

January 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/petermuster550

The rule exception you mentioned is basically what confused me and why I opened this topic besides reading all the comments for the exercise. The way CivisRomanus explained it would make sense to me, since an exception to this rule would mean that the recipient's gender would not be transported in those sentences.

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mmseiple

In practice, you will find that the participle is often not changed with first and second person pronouns ("mi," "ti," "ci," "vi"), and a lot of grammar resources confirm that it is optional. However, if it is easier for you to always change them, this would not be considered wrong. It would also not be considered wrong (at least according to common use) not to change them in these cases, as long as you do change them for the third person ("lo," "la," "li," "le").

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2200Lucia60

Dear CivisRomanus. First of all, thanks a lot for your contribution which is extremely interesting and complete. A year ago, in Duo, I explained that in the sentence "Tuo padre ti avrebbe dato tutto", even if "ti" would refer to a girl, the past participle should not change. My explanation did not get appreciation from the not Italian speaking user HydraBianca; I wrote, e.g. "Tuo padre avrebbe dato tutto a te, Maria. Sì cara, ti avrebbe dato tutto! Here no agreement of "dato"(P.P.) because "ti" stands for "Ti avrebbe dato tutto A TE (= a Maria)" which is an indirect object, not "direct object". Can you, CivisR. confirm that I was right? I believe that the main problem is, that English speakers often have not a clue of what "indirect" from "direct" object distinguish. But in my sentence, you give something TO somebody. Unfortunately in my comment there, I wasn't taken seriously.

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

You are welcome, thank you for your appreciation.

The debated sentence is:

tuo padre ti avrebbe dato tutto = your father would have given you everything

There is no essere  (as an auxiliary), there is no direct object clitic pronoun, there is no partitive clitic pronoun ne .

The clitic pronoun ti  is clearly an indirect object, otherwise it would have been te  (direct object clitic pronoun). It can refer to either masculine or feminine; the different gender only affects the 3rd singular person:

gli  (= a lui ),  le  (= a lei ).

So in this case, the basic rule applies, i.e. the past participle remains invariable (masculine, singular, dato ).

We can change the subject:

tua madre ti avrebbe dato tutto

i tuoi fratelli ti avrebbero dato tutto

le tue sorelle ti avrebbero dato tutto

We can change the direct object:

tuo padre ti avrebbe dato la casa

tuo padre ti avrebbe dato i gioielli

We can change the indirect object clitic pronoun:

tuo padre vi avrebbe dato tutto

tuo padre gli avrebbe dato tutto

tuo padre le avrebbe dato tutto

But dato  remains invariable, regardless of the subject, of the direct object, of the indirect object clitic pronoun (whomever it may refer to).


As for the direct object vs. indirect object issue, a misunderstanding might be due to the fact that 'to give' is a ditransitive verb, i.e. a verb that can take a direct object and an indirect object without any preposition:

your father (subject)

would have given (verb)

you (indirect object)

everything (direct object)

This is more evident if the sentence is rephrased into:

your father would have given everything to you

in which 'to you' becomes a prepositional object (i.e. an indirect object with a preposition in front).

Similar ditransitive verbs are 'to tell', 'to send', 'to read', etc.

Italian has no ditransitive verbs, and every indirect object is always introduced by a preposition. Therefore, the Italian grammar only speaks of 'indirect objects', not 'prepositional objects'.

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2200Lucia60

Waw CivisRomanus, that is what I definitely call: putting something clear for once and forever! I only did not get the point about "Italian have no detransitive verbs and would always introduce a preposition." Imagine: I will send you a message as soon as I arrive at home> Appena che arrivo a casa, ti manderò un messaggio. Both EN/IT can be expressed with or without prep, isn't it? I'll send a message TO you as soon as I arrive at home. Appena che arrivo a casa, manderò un messaggio A te. (Only difference "A TE" is emphased) However, essentially your analytical grammar exposition, for me , is very important to complete my Italian (English) education as I am neither Italian nor English native speaker. So please, correct me or explain.

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

In Italian no verb is ditransitive, so while in English you can say:

'I give Paul a book'  or  'I give a book to Paul'

'we'll buy Mary a gift'  or  'we'll buy a gift for Mary'

in Italian you can only use the second form, in which the indirect object always takes a preposition (in English it is called a prepositional object, in Italian it is still called an indirect object):

io do un libro a Paolo

noi compreremo un regalo a Maria  (or per Maria )

When the indirect object is a personal pronoun, a clitic pronoun is normally used in place of the preposition + standard pronoun. Obviously, the set of indirect object pronouns must be used:

io do un libro a luiio gli do un libro

noi compreremo un regalo a lei / per leinoi le compreremo un regalo

You can still use the structure with the preposition + standard pronoun, but it sounds emphatic:

io do un libro a lui = I give a book to him (not to someone else)

noi compreremo un regalo a lei / per lei = we'll buy a gift for her (not for someone else)

Using the example you mentioned ('I will send you a message as soon as I arrive at home'):

appena arrivo a casa ti manderò un messaggio

and using the emphatic structure:

appena arrivo a casa manderò un messaggio a te

The position of the indirect object a te  can be changed:

appena arrivo a casa a te manderò un messaggio

a te appena arrivo a casa manderò un messaggio

But IN NO CASE the verb mandare  can be ditransitive, as in English:

appena arrivo a casa manderò te un messaggio [wrong!!]

I hope everything is clear.

January 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2200Lucia60

Dear CivisRomanus. You are clear as Alpine spring water. As it seems you are good, I fear I might ask other linguistic explanations in future. And if I don't agree immediately, that just means that I have to be sure what I have to agree with. Have a nice Sunday and above all thanks for the effort to contribute!

January 14, 2017
Learn Italian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.